Sunday, July 6, 2008

Hinter Hutten, another Anabaptist hiding place

In the afternoon we took the bus from Barau Dorf, close to where we are staying, to Fankhaus Schulhaus, about a 20 minute walk from Hinter Huetten. Hinter Huetten is where there is a barn that has a hidden alcove within it. The boys are standing next to it. This is a place where Anabaptists could hide when the local bailiff was pursuing them.
The current family of the farm, the Fankhauser family, is descended from the builder of the barn and is currently Reformed. But they discovered that some of their ancestors became Anabaptist and that is why they made this hiding place. This place was unknown to the outside world until about 1979, when the owner made public what had been passed on in his family for generations.
The current family has done a fantastic job of creating historical displays in German, French, and English on Anabaptist history. It really was the best I have seen along with Schleitheim. They have also set up a whole series of enterprises, like farmers do in this area as they wait for hikers to pass through their farms. I think I have explained before how you can hike along a trail and then pass through a farm property. Some of these farms open a small restaurant or at least snack bar for those passing through.
So the Fankhausers charge a small admission fee to the historical display in their farmhouse, and then also have a snack area, and finally a souvenirs areas. In each place they have a small basket where you can drop in your money. So it is on the honor system, again a touch that reminds me a lot of Lancaster County Amish.
The displays included the narration of the story of the current farmer's ancestors who were Anabaptist. I appreciated the way this family decided to find the truth about their background. It encouraged me to stay on the trail of Isaac Kaufmann and to continue to find out what I can about him. In the case of the Fankhausers the family still has the farm presumably because some of the children did not become Anabaptist and so were able to inherit the farm. I don't think any of the old Kaufmann farms have Kaufmanns on them anymore. Not that some Kaufmanns didn't return to the Reformed faith.


Cindy said...

You may never find this comment but I thank you for this post as I am going to be in Switzerland in May and wanted to see this hiding place but was having a difficult time finding the information!

Cindy said...

PS. I really enjoyed reading through your blog and appreciated the information and pictures very much!

Doug Kaufman said...

Thank you, Cindy, I'm glad you found it helpful. You can find even more detailed information about this in Samuel Wenger's A Tour of Ten Important Anabaptist and Reformed Sites in Rural Switzerland, Vol. 2,featuring the Canton or Zurich and the Emmental Region of the Canton of Bern from Masthof Press, It includes contact information for the Fankhauser family. The wife speaks Engish. If you like to hike there is a great hiking circuit in that area of Anabaptist sites.